Household Hazardous Waste

This page provides information to help you identify Household Hazardous Waste (HHW), and lists options for free local disposal programs.

By properly disposing of HHW, you are protecting the health and safety of our community, environment, and collection crews. Please note: The information on this page is for residents only. If you are a business, please go to our Business/Commercial Waste page.

COVID-19 update: 

  • Measures are in place at the Region's Household Hazardous Waste depots to support physical distancing and protect the public and our staff. Expect longer wait times as staff limit the number of vehicles permitted on site at one time.
  • If you are returning HHW items to stores, call or check the website of the business ahead of time to see if they are open and any changes to their terms of service. 
  • For additional information about changes to our waste programs and services during the pandemic, please go to our Collection Matters page.

What is Household Hazardous Waste?

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) includes:

  • Automotive fluids and products including motor oil, antifreeze, oil filters
  • Batteries
  • Fluorescent lamps, including the curly compact light bulbs
  • Fuel (Note: Fuel is non-transferable. Your container will not be returned to you.)
  • Household cleaners, lawn and garden chemicals
  • Items with Drug Identification Numbers (DIN), including prescription and over-the-counter products, expired medicines, cosmetics (such as make-up, nail polish, perfume, shaving cream, deodorant)
  • Mercury thermostats
  • Paints and solvents
  • Propane tanks (barbeque size or smaller)
  • Syringes

Tip! Check for these symbols:

Hazard symbols

NO unsealed, leaking or unlabeled containers. No glass containers. No Ammunition (bullets, shells, gunpowder), firearms, and explosives,  asbestos,  radioactive material. No glucose meters and other monitoring devices, intravenous (IV) bags and tubing, painting tools. 

Wondering how to dispose of an item? Ask the Waste Whiz.

Ask the Waste Whiz!
Reminder! Various empty containers are accepted in recycling programs so don't bring them to HHW drop-off sites. Put the following empty containers in your Containers blue box:
  • Plastic bottles and jugs that contained windshield washer fluid, antifreeze, or household cleaners
  • Empty aerosol cans 
  • Empty, dry paint cans (with lid removed).

How to prepare Household Hazardous Waste for drop-off

  • Keep Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) in the original container so that the chemical can be safely identified.
    • If not in the original container, please write on the container what it contains. 
    • Do not use glass containers.
    • Note that the Region's HHW depot can accept containers with maximum volume of 25 litres.
  • Ensure lids on all containers are tightly sealed and do not leak. 
  • Do not mix materials together.
  • Apply tape to terminals of all lithium batteries.
  • Store materials in safe, dry, secure area(s) of your home which are out of reach of children and pets.
  • Place syringes in an approved syringe disposal container which are available for free from pharmacies.  Once filled with syringes, take the plastic container to a local pharmacy that is participating in the health products stewardship program. Do not dispose syringes in your curbside garbage or recycling containers.

About the Region of Waterloo's Household Hazardous Waste depots

We operate two depots which accept residential household hazardous waste that has been generated within Waterloo Region. Note: The maximum size of containers accepted at our depots is 25 litres.

Our depots can be extremely busy, particularly on Saturdays. Expect long line-ups and wait times as staff limit the number of vehicles permitted on site at one time, as a COVID-19 measure. Also, there are physical barriers to help protect the public and staff at the depots.

Locations:

  • 201 Savage Drive, Cambridge. The entrance is at the very end of Savage Drive. Follow the road and veer right to go to the scales. Follow directions provided on signs. Tell the scale operator the materials you have and follow their instructions. 
  • 925 Erb Street West (Gate 2), Waterloo. Enter the roundabout and go to the Gate 2 entrance. (Notes: There are multiple roundabouts and gates along this street. And you do not have to cross the scales to access our depot in Waterloo.) Just inside Gate 2, turn immediate right, then left. Go to the brown building on the left-hand side. It is a drive-through. Follow instructions on the signs. Enter the drive through, park and turn off your vehicle. Unload your items onto the table provided. 

Our HHW depots are open Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on statutory and designated holidays. 

About drop-off programs

Residents can return many types of household hazardous waste to local businesses participating in stewardship programs. 

  • Drop-off of residential household hazardous waste is free; you will not be charged fees at either local businesses participating in stewardship programs or at the Region's Household Hazardous Waste depots.
  • Limits may apply. Please call or check the business's website ahead of time to confirm the waste accepted, quantities and any COVID-related restrictions.

Check the sections below to find out limits, requirements and drop-off options for certain types of household hazardous waste. 

Automotive fluids and oil filters (motor oil, oil filters, old fuel)

  • Local stores: Through the Resource Productivity & Recovery Authority, a network of local stores accept antifreeze/coolant, empty motor oil containers, and oil filters. Go to https://rpra.ca/find-a-collection-site/ to find a location near your home. 
  • Region of Waterloo Household Hazardous Waste depots: Automotive fluids and oil filters can be dropped off at Region of Waterloo Household Hazardous Waste depots. Please note the following limits: 
    • Man pouring motor oil into a tankMotor oil:  A maximum of 25 litres of used motor oil per person per day is accepted. Empty oil into bulk storage tanks available at our Household Hazardous Waste depots. No anti-freeze, transmission fluid or brake fluid is allowed in the tanks. No five gallon pails. 

    • Antifreeze/coolant:  A maximum of 25 litres of antifreeze/coolant per person per day is accepted.
    • Oil filters:  A maximum of five (5) used oil filters per person per day is accepted.
    • Old fuel is accepted, but is non-transferable. The container you bring stays with us and is not returned.

Barbeque tanks and other pressurized cylinders

  • Resource Productivity & Recovery Authority: Go to https://rpra.ca/find-a-collection-site/ to find a localPressurized tanks store that is participating in the Resource Productivity & Recovery Authority program.  

TIP! When transporting pressurized cylinders, make sure they are in an upright position and on a flat surface.

Batteries

Chemicals and cleaning products (household only)

Includes waxes, polishes, solvents, cleaning products.

Bring them in their original container to the Region's Household Hazardous Waste depots. Note: The maximum size of containers accepted at our depots is 25 litres.

Fertilizers and pesticides

Fluorescent lamps and thermostats, ballasts

Includes "curly" light bulbs, long fluorescent light tubes, old thermostats that contain mercury.Various fluorescent light bulbs

These items are accepted at the Region of Waterloo Household Hazardous Waste depots:

Lighting ballasts found inside fluorescent fixtures manufactured before 1980 may contain polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB). These ballasts need to be disposed of by a registered PCB recycler. Visit aevitas.ca for more information.

Note: Other types of light bulbs (incandescent and LED) and strings of lights can go into the garbage, but have to be prepared properly to protect collection staff:

  1. Wrap it in several layers of newsprint and tape shut, or put it in a small cardboard box and tape shut.
  2. Ensure that it's completely sealed and there are no sharp edges.
  3. Put it in the middle of a garbage bag. Pack other garbage on top and around. Once full, tie the garbage bag securely closed.

Medicine

Includes unused and expired medicines.Bottles of medicine

Go to the Health Products Stewardship Association website. Type in your postal code to find a pharmacy near you that takes back these items.

Paint, Stains, Sealants and other coatings

Includes all paints (interior, exterior, marine), stains and coatings, varnishes and urethanes, wood finishing oils, sealants.

Reminder! Empty aerosol cans and empty, dry paint cans (with lids removed) can be recycled in the Blue Box and Cart recycling programs.

Syringes

  1. Place syringes in an approved syringe disposal container (available free from your local pharmacy).
  2. Go to the Health Products Stewardship Association website. Type in your postal code to find a pharmacy near you that takes back this item.
  3. Drop off the syringe container to a pharmacy participating in this stewardship program.

Tips

 Prevent and reduce the amount hazardous chemicals in your home by:

  1. Using the "BUD" principle:

    Buy only what you need.

    Use it all up.

    Dispose of any leftovers safely and properly.  

  2. Switching to "green" alternatives and natural options whenever possible. Consider making your own cleaners and furniture polish out of kitchen ingredients from recipes online.
  3. Various empty containers are accepted in recycling programs so don't bring them to household hazardous waste drop-off sites. For instance, plastic bottles and jugs that contained windshield washer fluid, antifreeze, or household cleaners can be put in the Containers blue box. As well, empty aerosol cans, and empty, dry paint cans (with lid removed) can be put in the Containers blue box.

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